Should the C.S. Bureau of Foreign Supplies been created before 1864?

Lubliner

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Forum Host
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Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
CS war dept. had a bureau of foreign supplies created I think in 64, should it have been created sooner. And what supplies should have been priority.
Ambassadors were sent to many foreign countries at the beginning of the war; Mexico, England, the Caribbean Islands, France, etc. Was there a point in time you notice some new activity in '64? Supplies were ongoing.
Lubliner.
 

Don Dixon

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Location
Fairfax, VA, USA
CS war dept. had a bureau of foreign supplies created I think in 64, should it have been created sooner. And what supplies should have been priority.

"Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics." Attributed to General of the Armies Omar N. Bradley

The study of the procurement of and movement of foreign military materiel into the Confederacy is a study in abject logistical failure. Each of the military bureaus had their own procurement representatives in Europe, many of whom didn't get along with each other. Until General McRae was dispatched to Europe in mid-1863 there was no single person at the European end of the supply chain that was even marginally in charge of the bureau representatives or the procurement chain there. The Confederacy couldn't maintain a flow of foreign exchange to its military representatives abroad, or prioritize the use of the funds that were available, and as a result contracted agreements broke down. The Austrians, for example, agreed to sell another 50,000 Muster 1854 rifle muskets to Major Caleb Huse's representatives in late 1863 but the deal was never completed over the remainder of the war because Huse never had the exchange to pay for the guns. Once "stuff" was procured it had to be shipped to Bermuda, the Bahamas, or Cuba, and the shipments broken down and run into the Confederacy. There appears to have been no effective logistical management of Confederate government owned military shipments in the islands. I can identify shipments of Austrian materiel that were delivered to the islands in early 1862 that were still sitting there in 1865 when Confederate forces surrendered. If it was important enough to purchase one would have thought it would have been important enough to ship, since Huse was responding to orders for materiel from BG Gorgas. The Confederate government passed no laws requiring runners to carry stipulated percentages of government owned property - military and other materiel in, and cotton out - until 1864 and there is good question about the extent to which the laws that were finally passed were ever effectively enforced. It was much more profitable for the in-bound runners to carry luxury goods for the planter aristocracy than the government's goods absent effective coercion by the government.

The Confederacy should have had an over arching logistical management structure for its foreign procurements from the moment it was realized that the war was going to be something more than a brief spat and foreign materiel would be required to fight it, but it was simply too stupid and too disorganized to function as a real government and as a country.

By 1863 the Federal Army had consolidated procurement of foreign originated materiel at the New York Ordnance Agency.

Ambassadors were sent to many foreign countries at the beginning of the war; Mexico, England, the Caribbean Islands, France, etc. Was there a point in time you notice some new activity in '64? Supplies were ongoing.
Lubliner.

Sending an "ambassador" to a foreign country has no effect if that country refuses to accept their credentials. While Confederate officials operated overseas, no foreign country diplomatically accredited them. Just because I say that I am the ambassador or consul of _____ doesn't make me that if the local government doesn't grant me diplomatic status. At the same time, while the Confederacy was desperately seeking foreign diplomatic recognition, local draft officials attempted to draft the foreign consuls living in the Confederacy into the Confederate Army. At the time most consuls were not professional diplomats. They were local residents or traders who undertook duties as a consul as a service to their home country, often for little or no pay. The attempt to draft the consuls was legal, but see my remark above about stupid. But then, so was drafting workers at ordnance plants.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 
Last edited:

DaveBrt

1st Lieutenant
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Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
CS war dept. had a bureau of foreign supplies created I think in 64, should it have been created sooner. And what supplies should have been priority.
The primary purposes of the Bureau was the control of the cotton leaving the country (essentially a Wilmington and Charleston issue) and the regulation of who could get importation space on incoming government runners.
 

David Knight

First Sergeant
Joined
Feb 26, 2012
Location
Pontefract, Yorkshire.
The CSA had some major problems at the outset of the war.. the main one being where were they going to get the military hardware and munitions from as they had a small industrial base therefore importing had to be top of the list. However, I suspect that the CSA expected to have a short sharpe war that would break the Norths Political Will. Therefore the South did not think through what the war may mean and what they had to do to ensure they could last as long as possible. When reality broke in it was also to late.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Thanks everyone, as usual you guys educated me some more. I didn't know that the supply chain from overseas had broken down that badly. And I was under the impression that the purpose of creating the foreign supplies bureau was to consolidate the procurement effort.
I do think this bureau could have been a good thing if created for example in spring of 62.
 

Lubliner

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Chattanooga, Tennessee
As far as shipping went, there were so many middlemen involved in the operation trying to keep it as discreet as possible, and having to always pursue an evasive tactic at every turn, it is easy to see why the system was inadequate. It also is a late time for redress by 1864.
Lubliner.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Ambassadors were sent to many foreign countries at the beginning of the war; Mexico, England, the Caribbean Islands, France, etc. Was there a point in time you notice some new activity in '64? Supplies were ongoing.
Lubliner.
No ambassadors were ever sent to the CSA. Ambassadors can only be sent if both countries first grant each other formal diplomatic relations and both nations have the right to refuse an ambassador for any reason and expell him/ her for any reason.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Ambassadors were sent to many foreign countries at the beginning of the war; Mexico, England, the Caribbean Islands, France, etc. Was there a point in time you notice some new activity in '64? Supplies were ongoing.
Lubliner.
No ambassadors were ever sent to the CSA or received by any nation. Ambassadors can only be sent if both countries first grant each other formal diplomatic relations and both nations have the right to refuse an ambassador for any reason and expell him/ her for any reason.
Leftyhunter
 
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